To some it may sound like mumbo-jumbo, but positive energy in your office can translate into higher productivity, fewer employee sick days, and a better company culture overall.
Summoning sparkling workplace vibes can lead down many corridors including extensive team-building exercises, and offering employee perks like pets in the office and foosball tables.
But we’re going to focus on some subtle physical changes that you can make this very moment that will really help shine up the energy in your office. The best part – these changes can be made in any office, large or small, and will transform the zeitgeist of your workspace immediately.
Start With Clean
If you’re anything like me, you spend most of your office time staring at your computer. Boxes of product samples, magazines, reports, ideas scribbled on napkins, office supply items, and mail both old and new are probably stacked around work spaces.
While it’s noble to be so dedicated to your work that you’re willing to work in a virtual dump closet rather than take a few moments to straighten up, it’s not really helping you in the long run.
“My office felt like working in a storage closet” relates Andrea, CMO of a top commercial interior design firm we work with. “Which is ridiculous when you consider what our company does. I had fabric swatches, paint colors, and idea boards literally everywhere. It had gotten so I couldn’t see past what was right in front of me and I realized I had to put it all away or I’d just keep designing the same thing over and over.”
Stacks of papers gather dust and over time defy being sorted through. Your clever ideas and inspiration from 6 months ago will seem like relics if you don’t pull them out and make them actionable. Sort through your notebooks and throw away scribbles that don’t apply to current or future projects, and put the workable ideas on a schedule. You can put the larger ideas on a white board so they’re accessible to you when you need fresh inspiration. Shred old mail or file important documents so you can actually find them when needed.
Put away those cardboard boxes of catalogs, samples, swatches, office supplies – if for some reason you don’t have a spot for them, create one. Invest in some organizational items like workspace cupboards, cabinets, or clean out a closet and store items there. You probably have much more space than you know if you do some sorting, discarding and decluttering.
Unless you are a new startup, you probably have a stash of goods that are outdated like old software disks, phone cords, envelopes or other office elements that you thought you were saving for some reason, but are in fact outdated.
Get as much work paraphernalia off of desktops and tables and out of bookcases so that you can actually dust and clean.
Then dust and clean! You may have a work crew that comes in at night to empty wastebaskets and vacuum, but you most likely will feel best of you do this dusting and cleaning yourself. Cleaning can be cathartic – the physical action of wiping away old grime to reveal sparkling new surfaces is a great exercise in renewal. It’s also helpful to put things back like family photos, awards, and small gifts where you, the workstation occupant want them.
Mix up a toxin free spray that will not only clean away the dust and dirt but also gently lend a sparkle and gorgeous scent in the process. In a 16 oz spray bottle combine:
8 oz of White Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Baking Soda*
2 Regular Squirts of Natural Dishwashing Detergent
Essential Oils of Grapefruit and Lemon to desired scent.
*The baking soda will foam when it is mixed with the vinegar so you may want to blend these ingredients in a pitcher ahead of time so it doesn’t spew out of your spray bottle like an erupting volcano.
I personally love the combination of grapefruit and lemon, it has a really active scent when combined with the vinegars, but if you happen to love rose or peppermint then by all means substitute those essential oils for the grapefruit/lemon.
This blend really puts a shine on surfaces and leaves no residue. It’s inexpensive and toxin-free. Be sure to spray it sparingly on a cloth before wiping down printers and machinery so as not to damage electronic or digital elements.
There’s been oodles written about the disgusting germs and disturbing elements of dust that have been discovered on keyboards and desktops. But since our focus is on vibes in this article and not microbiology, I’ll just suffice to say that there are solid health reasons to clean up your office over and above the search for an improved atmosphere.
Set the Mood
While it may seem that a hushed environment is productive, studies have shown that that may not be the case. Add a bit of music and the mood of your office will change dramatically.
In a lot of workspaces, especially those with open plan work stations, individuals wear headphones and listen to their own music to separate themselves from their coworkers. They are literally listening to their own tune, which isn’t the best vibe if you want to get all your employees united and working towards the same company goals.
Try adding some upbeat music to your office to help unite your team. Get everyone in on creating a playlist that will get everyone literally singing the same tune. I would never recommend asking someone who is a good worker not to wear headphones if that’s what makes them comfortable. But perhaps by creating a team soundtrack you can craft a subtle atmospheric shift that will boost creativity and productivity.
In the same vein, make sure the lighting in your office contributes to an active mind. If you have the lights turned down and the shades drawn so that there’s no glare on computer screens you could be putting your employees and co-workers to sleep.
Ample natural light is best for productive minds to be most alert. This, combined with directional lighting can make a giant difference in the energy level in your office. Experiment with moving desks around and angling screens so that you don’t have glare.
“For years I had my desk in the corner so that I didn’t have light from the window drowning out my computer screen,” says Amy, a skincare developer we represent. “Which was really unfortunate because the view from my office is extraordinary. One day I moved my desk over to the window and after a few tries realized that if I angled the computer a certain way I could not only look out the window, but I didn’t feel like I was sitting in a closed off environment. It made me wonder why I hadn’t done it sooner.”
Add Crystals, Aromatherapy, Plants and Flowers
While I don’t advocate clutter in the workplace, a few bowls of crystals can help lighten the vibe.
If you believe the various types help protect and encourage creativity, then you don’t need convincing. On a tactical level, being able to pick up a small stone, be it smooth or rough edged, can help sooth nerves and encourage creativity. If I’m feeling stuck I’ll grab a small smooth quartz stone that I keep on my desk. It seems to calm and reassure me, and help me get back on a creative path.
Similarly aromatherapy in the form of an essential oil diffuser can help activate and unify an office environment. However this can be tricky if you have team members that really don’t like a certain scent.
The sense of smell, or olfactory system, can conjure subconscious feelings of both happiness and pain when it catches a whiff of something from the past. This happens when the thalamus sends smell information to the hippocampus and amygdala, key brain regions involved in learning and memory.
Consult with your team to see if aromatherapy is a good choice for your space. If yes, navigate your scent library towards active essential oil blends that help promote creativity. Unlike a spa, where the onus is on soothing and relaxation, you probably want your office to have a wakeful, active atmosphere. Citrusy, minty and floral scents tend to promote this.
Stay away from candles in an office setting. Open flames can easily be left unattended, tipped over or set next to flammable materials. There’s no need for that kind of stress when essential oil diffuser machines with auto shutoff do the job safely.
Flowers can be your signature, like they are for Jennifer, a world renowned graphic designer I’ve worked with.
“I keep Day Lilies in the reception area of the office,” Jennifer relates. “They’re bright and colorful, like my brand, and the scent is dreamy. Over the years, they’ve become part of my brand and clients who visit my office are constantly reminded of me every time they catch the scent of Day Lily.”
While you may have co-workers who are allergic, fresh flowers really add a special touch.
Think Power Thoughts
Make decks of cards and books full of positive thoughts available to your entire team. Keep them next to the flowers and crystals as a creativity “charging station”. You can also create an inspirational mantra each day to distribute office wide. Write the mantra on a chalkboard, and text it to each team member so that you have a power thought that pertains to what your company is working on at any given time.
You can draw your co-workers/employees to this spot by keeping a good stock of water, tea and coffee nearby so they walk past your “charging station” throughout the day. Instead of gossiping near the water cooler, they can “charge up” on good vibes.
Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe
Every business, consultant, office and practice experiences slumps, funks, downturns, and problems. The best way to navigate back to smooth sailing is to take a moment, acknowledge the situation, dismiss it through the steps above, and move forward with a plan of action.
Remember, Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe, and this is most true in a work environment. If you want energetic, positive thinking clients/customers/readers/viewers you need to cultivate a company culture that reflects the same attitude.